teacher development

30 tips for developing teachers

Some teachers have clear direction when it comes to development. Others, like me, have always been a little bit lost. I found that once I finished my initial teacher training there wasn’t much support or guidance when it came to improving my skills, subject knowledge or knowledge of the industry. There was the odd teacher training session or peer observation, plus the occasional chat with a colleague, but for the most part I just had to get on with things. So, I did.

Taking control of your own development is the best thing you can do. Moreover, it’s easier than you think – it just takes a bit of interest and a bit of drive. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started. They’re mostly aimed at teachers fresh off a CELTA looking for inspiration, but some will be useful whatever your experience.

Note: Sketch (ELTexperiences) wrote a couple of similar posts on this when we were working together, so click here and here to see his ideas.

Documenting your progress

It’s said that for development to be successful it needs to be documented. Try these things to help:

  1. Keep a teaching journal

Record your thoughts and reflections on lessons – things that went well, things that didn’t, things to improve on, useful things you’ve read, self-evaluation tasks you’ve tried, etc. It will be a good thing to look back on, and might help you gather your thoughts.

  1. Start a blog

A ‘web log’ – it can be like a journal/diary anyway. The difference is that other people can see it. You can get feedback from others, useful tips and ideas. I started this one on wordpress.com. It only took me 10 minutes to set up and it’s free. I’ve motivated my colleague to do the same so you can see one that’s just starting out here. Please comment and keep him reflecting 🙂

  1. Add teacher development aims to your plans

This is a practical tip for lesson evaluation. At the end of a lesson, write down two things that went well, and two you could have improved on. Our CELTA YLX tutor called these ‘Glows and Grows’. Try and work on the points to improve in the next lesson. Writing these down somewhere is a great way to evaluate your progress. If you’re me, it’s also a great way to notice how many times you’ve had to focus on GIVING BETTER INSTRUCTIONS! AAARGH! (note: had a formal obs yesterday – guess what came up?!).

A framework of reference

  1. British Council Continuing Professional Development Framework

It’s useful to have a bit of guidance when it comes to professional development. Download this free document from the British Council. It’s a CPD framework highlighting various stages of development and key professional practices. It might help you recognise the areas you need to focus on. (more…)

Tips for managing young learners

We set up a ‘Quality Circle’ here at the British Council Bangkok last term. Ours is basically like a reflective practice group set up for teachers, by teachers. We meet twice a term. Every 5 weeks we choose a topic to discuss. Me and my mentor Sarah put our heads together and devise a series of action research tasks on the topic. Other teachers complete the tasks (or just do their own task if they want), then we meet up and discuss our findings.

We had a great meeting the other day on classroom management. There was a 10 minute screencast from one teacher on classroom routines, some great tips from another on using gestures and expressions, and some lovely presentations on signposting and ensuring that learners have a ‘sense of progress’.

Our final short presentation was from Yvonne Leonard, and experienced teacher who works at one of our smaller centres here in Bangkok. She’d chosen a lovely collaborative task to get teachers at her centre involved in the group: (more…)

5 great tips for new teachers

Here’s a fantastic guest post from Michael Walker, who currently teaches at a university in South Korea. He offers some great tips for teachers who are just starting out. Thanks Michael!

  1. Smile

    don't smile

    Don’t smile until Christmas?

There is an old piece of teaching advice which tells us. “Don’t smile until Christmas.” This is nonsense, a simple smile is contagious, we want our students to learn in a happy, friendly, and approachable environment, smiling helps deliver that type of environment. Creating a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment in the classroom is vital to educational success. If students are not comfortable they will not talk, if they stay silent their English will not improve. A friendly environment will lead to increased student-teacher contact, this is key to student motivation and learning. (more…)

Negative attitudes to professional development

In the 6 years I’ve been teaching I’ve encountered a lot of negative attitudes towards professional development. Sure, at times I’ve been negative or cynical too – no-one’s perfect! It’s just that over the last few years I’ve really come to value the opportunities I get to develop my practice. That makes me feel guilty for being negative towards development opportunities in the past.

I’ve come across plenty of teachers who don’t share my opinion. In almost every teaching job I’ve had there’s been at least one, sometimes many people who don’t take kindly to staff development sessions. I understand when people have disagreements about the content of a session, or annoyances over its poor scheduling. I also understand that not everyone wants to (or feels they need to) develop their skills. That’s up to them. However, I’ve heard some pretty negative feedback about training sessions in the past that really wasn’t conducive to a positive staffroom environment. Not only have I heard it, I’ve actually said some of the comments below myself. I feel like a terrible person right now… (more…)

Great formative assessment tools

In the first ever guest post on ELT Planning, Kirsten Anne shares her teaching experiences and offers two great ideas for formative assessment. 

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been promising to write something for ELT Planning for a while but anyone who is in the teaching profession in some guise will understand that I had to prioritise my to-do list.  There were the parents to schedule meetings with, praise postcards to write and lessons to plan.

kirsten

me as a teacher

Who am I?

Here’s a potted history of my career so far. I first entered English Language teaching after completing my CertTESOL back in 2010.  From there, I taught EFL in Edinburgh, Sussex and South Korea before returning to the UK to embark on my PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). The last 5 years have been somewhat of a whirlwind and at times I have felt like all I do is work. My partner will vouch for me when I say I work hard – the life of a primary school teacher is not glamorous. I only spent 1 year in the UK post-PGCE and whilst I loved the school where I completed my NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year, the demands from the government back home were just ridiculous. My search for a teaching job that allowed me to have more of a work/life balance began.  So far, that search has taken me to Bangkok where I’m fortunate to be part of a prestigious international school with a forward thinking team.  I don’t want this to sound misleading — the job is still VERY demanding, but being part of such a supportive team helps, as does not having quite so many bits of paperwork… (more…)

15 ways I’ve developed as a teacher this year

I’ve had a really busy year. I’ve taught in four different countries since January. They’ve included a quick winter camp in Spain (which was great fun), a short stint back in England, an amazing summer in Vietnam and now Christmas in Bangkok! You can’t beat the life of an EFL teacher!

I’ve certainly learnt a lot this year. Here are a few things I’ve done that have improved me in some way as a teacher. I hope they give you some ideas for professional development. Some of these were motivated by this great post from ELT Experiences, I recommend looking at it for more inspiration! (more…)

Course Review: How to teach IELTS

I recently completed a course on how to prepare students for the IELTS exam. IELTS course
The course was provided by Cambridge English Teacher (CET).

CET is an online professional development platform which currently offers about 20 courses related to teaching, learning and assessment. They range in length and price, with some only costing a few dollars and requiring only 4 hours of study. There are 6 introductory courses covering different exams in the Cambridge suite – each one requires around 25 hours of study time and costs about $15 (depending on your location).

Why did I take this training course?

My lack of exam teaching, along with my lack of experience teaching Very Young Learners, are two big gaps in my teaching CV. Taking this online course showed my new employer that I was committed to developing my skills in this area, and I was given opportunities to observe and teach IELTS courses almost immediately. (more…)